When was the last time you used your creative side and were able to say ‘I did that’.

Amma Gyan wants to give more people the ability to proudly proclaim exactly that after expanding her Amanartis business into atria Watford.

The artist and designer joined forces with Watford Borough Council in 2020 to re-imagine the chapel at Vicarage Road Cemetery into a creative space where artists can originate and exhibit their work.

That will continue but Amma, who moved to Watford from East London approaching 15 years ago, has been seeking a more central location in the town to reach more people.

After speaking to the shopping centre management, a proposal was accepted and she has taken on a lease for the Gallery area on Level One, next to Palace car park.

Watford Observer: Amma Gyan in the House of Amma in the GalleryAmma Gyan in the House of Amma in the Gallery

“It’s always been the Gallery but it’s never been fully occupied as such,” she said. “I think the centre manager’s very experience-driven and wanted to make the most of it. Art and all things creative is one of the ways you can do that because it’s different and it changes.

“I think it was fortunate that I’d had the chapel so I had a bit of a track record of doing something similar that had been received well.”

Amma has taken the rooms at the Gallery and is using them to “map the journey” – from having an idea and putting it on paper, to exhibiting it and selling it. A studio is available to hire on a longer-term basis for those who want to commit more time and develop their practice, there are two smaller, more flexible spaces which Amma is open to ideas to how best to utilise, as well as a “project space” which is higher and can be used for shorter-term projects.

“That will hopefully add to the interest of people visiting because you never know what might be happening in there,” Amma said. “Somebody might be building a big sculpture and then another day somebody else might be running a workshop.”

Watford Observer: The Gallery in atria WatfordThe Gallery in atria Watford

There is also an atelier, which is not available for hire but has been created “to give people who visit the town something different”.

She said: “I know a world of creative people, deisgners, fashion designers – I come from that background as well – and you’ve got a shopping centre full of clothes that are wonderful but we’re going to make one-off items which you can’t buy anywhere else – a little bit like a couture house or an upcycling destination.”

Amma has tried to cover as many bases as possible with how the Gallery has been divided up, explaining: “What I feel very strongly about is there are loads of people wondering what they can do with that thing that’s inside of them. I don’t have the answer to everything but I have this space that maybe able to help you do something, or help you bring that side of you out.

“I think being creative is a massive humanitarian necessity. We’ve lost who we are by the fact we don’t nurture our creativity, our problem-solving skills, our desire to have that feeling of going ‘I did that’.

Watford Observer: Amanartis banner

“I say to lots of young people can you imagine having an idea, and it’s just a thought, it’s a dream in your mind and then you put that idea first to paper, then you make it real, then somebody else actually loves it. You’ve created magic effectively.

“If you think you can do that with a sculpture, a picture, imagine what else you can do and that’s my agenda, really empowering people to imagine what else you can do with the power of your mind and that commitment to doing and being creative.”

Amanartis at the Gallery in atria Watford is open Thursday to Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm.